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NickIndy

Newbie with questions on WWII Officer Sword

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Hi Group,

Typical new member here with a Sword I know little to nothing about.

Being from a military family and member myself, I couldn’t resist buying this from an estate auction.

Treat me like I know nothing as I am looking for as much information and history on this item as possible.

Looks to be in excellent condition, with an older blade? Since the tang has 2 holes? I am also confused on the “brass chain” and the solid brown (navy?) tassel.

Any help on identifying the maker, approximate age, value or anything you guys think would be important to know about this would be very appreciated.

I apologize in advance if I’m am using the wrong terms or vernacular, I am new.

 

Nick I

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Hi the Nakago is quite poorly executed and irregular and the mei is not very well done but that's about as far as I can take you.

It's unlikely to be a much older blade and that silver number 104 on the other side of the Nakago is odd.

Can you remove the habaki and take a shot of the full length of the blade both sides?

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Hello Nick,

 

It looks like the signature reads 

吉近作

Yoshichika saku (made by Yoshichika)

 

Usually you will find an arsenal stamp, struck on the sword above the mekugi-ana (a.k.a. the holes for the pegs). The pictures you posted are just far enough to make this section a bit hard to see, but if you can find such a stamp on your sword it means the sword was produced in a Japanese arsenal during the war. If you cannot find a stamp, you start to go down the rabbit hole of trying to find out exactly who made the sword, when it was made, and who it was made for. 

 

There was a ww2 smith who made swords, or at least supervised sword production, using the name Yoshichika (spelled exactly the same way that is on this sword). I'm inclined to think this was one of his swords. However the hamon (temper pattern) on your sword is very atypical of WW2 swords. It looks somehow artificial. And the signature doesn't match the signatures found on the wartime Yoshichika's swords. The two holes on the tang are also a slight anomaly, indicating perhaps that someone had to put a new hole in the tang in order to accommodate a new handle (tsuka) because the hole in the new tsuka wasn't aligned with the existing hole in the tang. This kind of adjustment is super common in old swords, but you don't see it so much on wartime swords since they were more or less mass-produced in an assembly-line type of operation, with scabbard makers working closely with the sword makers, and the various parts being numbered for assembly. 

 

The top hole would have been the original peg-hole, and the bottom one (that has obscured the smith's name) is the later addition. There could be an arsenal stamp hiding under the removable collar on the blade (habaki).

 

Some pictures of that area might help. Some better pictures of the tip might help. But your sword looks like it has had an amateur polish, which tends to ruin the features in the steel that are interesting for sword collectors. It could also be the thing that is causing the hamon to look artificial. 

 

Sorry to lead you to the edge of the rabbit hole. That's all I've got for now. The militaria guys can add more, hopefully. The scabbard looks OK to me. Actually it looks to be in excellent condition. The sword... I would like to see more. Could be an unusual WW2 sword, could be a very well-made fake. 

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There are two Yoshichika listed as Seki Kaji Tosho, probably one of them and not the famous Shodai/Nidai active in Taisho/Showa. The mounts are certainly genuine, made later in the war, the sword is perhaps just of particularly low quality.

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The chain is from the original sword-belt. It would have had a hook to suspend the sword from the ring on the saya (scabbard). The all-brown tassel is now known to have been used by the Gunzoku, civil branch of the army. They wore uniforms, but had distinctive ranks for the civil side (sort of like our GS & WG workers on bases, but with uniforms). It's a lighter brown than the navy tassel.

 

It would be great to see a focused close-up of the blade tip. Seems the original hamon is more visable there. I've enlarged the one from above:

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The style is called the Type 98 Japanese officer gunto. You can read about them, with great pictures, on Ohmura's site, here: http://ohmura-study.net/934.html

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Thank you all for the prompt replies. It is very appreciated that you have taken the time to do so. Here are some more pictures of the blade.

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All you Nihonto pro's forgive me, but I see a suguha running underneath the artificial hamon. But I could be totally out-to-lunch!

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No, the Hamon we see is the original shape (can't recall the name, something related to arrowheads), the polish is just in very poor condition.

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I agree with John that it is the original hamon.  John I think you are thinking of yahazu, arrow notch hamon, but to me it looks more mimigata (ear-shape).  In this photo it is possible to just see a narrow ashi the length of the tani, the valley between the peaks (between the 3rd and 4th "ear").  It sort of speaks of a quality, well-quenched sword, but having said that overall I would guess it is a lower class blade that needs to be seen by an experienced eye or ten to really see what it is.

 

BaZZa.

 

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